Doubts arise over death of terrorist in Syria
Intelligence agencies are working to confirm if notorious Australian terrorist Khaled Sharrouf is still alive amid reports of photographic evidence that fellow Islamic State fighter Mohamed Elomar is dead.
Highly classified images captured by the US military in al-Raqqa, Syria, have confirmed Elomar was killed earlier this month in a drone strike, according to News Corporation reports.
There are three images that reportedly confirm Elomar was killed by a drone during an attack on an Islamic State convoy, but no evidence that Sharrouf is also dead.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said yesterday authorities were attempting to confirm the reports.
“Our security and intelligence agencies are working to verify reports that Khaled Sharrouf survived a coalition air strike which is believed to have killed Mohamed Elomar,” Ms Bishop said.
News Corp says images clearly identify Elomar, with one picture showing the 30-year-old former Sydney man standing next to an SUV travelling with a tactical unit of foreign fighters.
Another image is said to show debris in the wake of the missile strike.
It was initially reported last Monday that Sharrouf was killed along with Elomar.
Sharrouf, who served a four-year jail term for his role in the Pendennis terror plot, is believed to have also survived another rocket attack on his car that killed three people in Syria last month.
In 2005, counter-terrorism Operation Pendennis uncovered jihadist cells in Melbourne and Sydney amassing guns, ammunition and bomb-making equipment to use in attacks on home soil.
“He’s (Sharrouf ’s) got nine lives,” a source who had seen the images confirming Elomar’s death said, according to News Corp.
The latest development comes as Sharrouf ’s wife, Tara Nettleton, seeks to return to Sydney from Syria with the couple’s five children, including a son who was photo- graphed holding a severed head last year.
Sharrouf and Elomar, both of whom travelled to Syria in 2013, gained notoriety last year when they posed for photos holding the severed heads of enemy fighters.
Fairfax Media has published a text message purported to be from Sharrouf ’s eldest daughter Zaynab — who is said to have married Elomar at the age of just 13 — to her grandmother Karen Nettleton in Sydney.
“My husband got hit by a drone yesterday and got killed,” she wrote on June 20.
Karen Nettleton said she was told of Elomar’s death when a messenger visited her at home.
“I was also told that Khaled Sharrouf, my daughter’s husband, was missing and presumed dead,” she said.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said there was still uncertainty in relation to the fate of Sharrouf.
“I don’t know if he is alive or dead,” he said in Canberra.
“We don’t want these sort of people back in our country. I said last week and I made it very clear that I think that if there are negotiations, if there are discussions to take place with the family ... they need to be conducted between the family and the Australian Federal Police.” AAP